Julen Lopetegui is happy with the initial victory in the “special” evening.

Julen Lopetegui hailed a special day after taking charge of Wolves for the first time with a hard-fought Carabao Cup win over League Two strugglers Gillingham.

Late goals from substitutes Raul Jimenez and Rayan Ait-Nouri saw the bottom Premier League side secure a place in the quarter-finals with a 2-0 win at Molineux on Tuesday.

Lopetegui admitted there will be tougher challenges for his side than facing the 92nd-placed club in the pyramid, but the Spaniard is happy to be in the running.

The former Spain and Real Madrid manager was named as Bruno Lage’s permanent successor last month, but had to wait for top-flight football to resume after the World Cup break to put plans into action.

He said: “It’s a very special day for me and of course I’m very happy, but above all it is for the team because we wanted to be in the next round.

“We’ve tried to show a lot of the things we’ve been working on in the last few weeks, but this type of match is difficult against teams that have nothing to lose.

“We worked with good concentration and attention and in the end we are very happy.

“Now we have to look forward to the next matches. We have a difficult task ahead of us, but we must be ready. We have many things to improve.”

Mexican striker Jimenez’s appearance was the club’s first since August.

Lopetegui said: “It’s good for Raul and it’s good for us. All forwards want to score and that will be important for his confidence.”

Gillingham struggled to get out of their own half as Wolves dominated possession, but their stubbornness was commendable, particularly when it later emerged that their side had been stricken with a flu virus this week.

Coach Neil Harris, himself hoarse from a sore throat, revealed he drove to the game rather than ride the team bus to avoid further transmitting the infection.

Harris said: “I’m proud of my players. It has been a difficult 48 hours for us. We have a problem in the field, as you can see from my entry, that’s why we only had four reserves (outfield) tonight.

“We are committed. The match went as we expected and at times we had to come back with five, or even six.

“They had the ball but we forced them around us with our disciplined form. They had a hard time knocking us down and losing the opener like we did was frustrating. It was a very close call.

“But on balance, there’s no denying Wolves deserved to win the game.”

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